The Kalamazoo Valley Museum offers a popular, free lecture series on Sundays at 1:30 p.m. throughout the year. Curator of Research Tom Dietz and other local experts host the talks.
The Sept. 15 talk will be “Working Together to Achieve Justice Through the Underground Railroad in Southwest Michigan.” This lecture by Western Michigan University’s Dr. Michael Nassaney will be presented in conjunction with an exhibit on the archaeology of the Underground Railroad in southwest Michigan. The lecture and exhibit highlight the work that researchers are conducting on the history of anti-racism in the region. The exhibit will be on display from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31.
The Sept. 29 lecture will include a community conversation about what growing up in Kalamazoo means for today's children. The award-winning documentary "Where Do the Children Play?" will be followed by a discussion led by a panel of local experts.
On Oct. 6, guest speaker Ellie Carlson presents “Speaking of Unmentionables: The Rise and Fall of Ladies Underwear.” She will unveil some myths about women's unmentionables in the context of KVM's 19th century costume collection, some of which can be seen in the exhibit, "Decades of Dazzling Dresses."
On Oct. 13, Dietz will begin a series of updated talks about the Townships of Kalamazoo County when he talks about Alamo Township. In the first of a series of revised programs tracing the early history of all 16 townships in Kalamazoo County, Curator Dietz looks at the history of Alamo Township. Organized by the Michigan State Legislature on the second anniversary of the fall of the legendary Texas outpost, Alamo is located in the far northwestern corner of Kalamazoo County. This program looks at both the early settlement and organization of the township as well as 19th century life there.
The Oct. 20 event, a Black History Tour, celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society. Tour KVM's galleries with members of the society and stay for refreshments and conversation.
In his Oct. 27 talk, “Bring Out Your Dead! The History of Cemeteries in 19th Century Kalamazoo County,” Dietz looks at the stories of some of the earliest cemeteries in Kalamazoo County. From the first years of settlement, Kalamazoo County pioneers had to deal with the question of the burial of those who died.
The exploration of The Townships of Kalamazoo County continues on Nov. 10 with a talk about Brady Township. Brady Township once encompassed not only the entirety of Kalamazoo County, but Barry County and all land north to the Grand River. Today, it is a single township in southern Kalamazoo County, primarily rural in character. In this second program in the series, we explore how Brady came to be as well as other stories from its past.
On Nov. 17, the topic is “Comet ISON Emerges from Behind the Sun.” A bright comet will sweep around the sun and move across the evening sky in mid-November. Find out when and where to look for this visitor from the outer solar system, and discover what comets are like.
Charleston Township is the focus of the Nov. 24 talk, a continuation of the exploration of The Townships of Kalamazoo County. Today, nearly a quarter of Charleston Township is part of either the Fort Custer Recreation Area or the Fort Custer Military Reserve. Among its first permanent non-native settlers was William Harrison, the eldest son of pioneer Kalamazoo settler Bazel Harrison. This program explores the township in the decades before it became a training camp for World War I soldiers.
“Charles B. Hays - Home Builder” is the Dec. 8 topic. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Charles B. Hays was a major real estate developer in Kalamazoo. He laid out most of the residential development on Kalamazoo's south side as well as plats elsewhere in the city. An avid golfer, he helped develop the cit's first golf courses as well. This program explores his contributions to Kalamazoo's growth and development.
“The Townships of Kalamazoo County - Climax Township” is the Dec. 22 presentation. Climax Township was the home of Caleb Eldred, one of the founders of Kalamazoo College, but he was only one of the settlers who would describe the township's large prairies as “the climax of all we've seen.” The many stories and people of Climax Township in the 1800s will be the focus of this program.
Dietz presents “Speed Demons and Other Scofflaws” on Jan. 12. Major crimes and vice were not the only criminal aspects of life in Kalamazoo. In this program, we explore some of the petty crimes and misdemeanors that added to the spice of life in the 19th century. “The Townships of Kalamazoo County - Comstock Township” is the Jan. 26 talk. If Horace Comstock had had things his way, the Kalamazoo County Seat would today be located in the township that bears his name. In this program, we look at the rich history of Comstock Township in the 19th century.
Admission to the Museum is free. The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is operated by Kalamazoo Valley Community College and is governed by its Board of Trustees.